The Iron Writer Challenge #39
2013 Iron Writer Winter Solstice Challenge #3
A. Francis Raymond, Dawn Napier, Deepshry Kothare, Thomas Lamkin Jr.
The Space Station
A Phone Booth
A Mother’s Love Knows No Bounds
A. Francis Raymond
Alexander pushed his plate of untouched food towards the center of the table.
“May we be excused,” he asked.
His older brother, Dmitry, poked a fork at the dressed herring with one hand while resting his head on the other. Every Friday night, their Grandmother made the same thing.
“It was your mother’s favorite,” she reminded them.
Any mention of their mother prompted Alexander to ask when she was coming home. If Dmitry was close enough, it also earned Alexander a kick in the shin.
“May we?” Alexander repeated.
“Yes,” Grandmother answered and before they were out of earshot, “Dmitry, I want to hear you practicing your tuba!”
Alexander, at the perfect age of five, was young enough not to have the serious responsibilities of a musical instrument. Which was fine by him. He had more important things to do.
He proceeded immediately to his bedroom and from under his bed, produced the item he’d spent the last month searching for. It was an old style telephone. Finally, he’d be able to finish the phone booth he was constructing to talk to his mother.
“She’s gone away,” said Grandmother that first night mother didn’t come home, obviously holding back tears.
Alexander found Dmitry in their room, on his own bed, leaning against the headboard with his arms crossed tightly against his chest.
Surely a ten year old knew more about what was going on.
“Go away,” was all Dmitry said.
Alexander persisted and Dmitry finally snorted, “She’s on the space station, you dork!”
Alexander puzzled for weeks over why their mother was on the space station, since in his five years he’d learned all about the cosmonauts that lived up there and it never sounded like something their mother would do.
From that moment on, his mission was to talk to his mom on the Space Station.
When he saw the ancient telephone on the vids, it all made sense. It was how people talked to each other. He could build a phone booth and call his mom.
Luckily, Alexander had an unused cardboard box and an assortment of crayons.
Now, with the phone he’d found at Anna’s place, whose parents fixed and sold old stuff, his phone booth would be complete.
Finishing it was simple. He crawled into the box and put the phone on the bottom. He cut a hole for the long wire hanging off the telephone. He crawled back out and pulled the wire though the hole and looked around the room. An electrical outlet only a few feet away would make the thing work, he reasoned.
Inserting the wire into the outlet sent a shock through his arm strong enough to tingle for several minutes afterwards.
Alexander was still massaging it when a sound emerged from the box. It was the same ringing sound the telephone made on the vid.
He picked up the receiver.
“Hello?” he said, his voice quivering.
“I’m sorry I left so suddenly, my precious. I’ll always be watching you and your brother from above. I love you both so much. Goodbye.”
“I don’t know how you can eat that stuff.”
“It’s awesome. My babu used to make it for me when she used to come visit.”
Karen wrinkled her nose at Josh’s plate of dressed herring. Then she sighed. “I’m going to miss you. I’m even going to miss your taste in stinky fish.”
Josh swallowed a mouthful of rice and leaned across the table to kiss her forehead. “Gonna miss you too.”
“When do you leave?”
“Nine a.m. So I gotta be up bright and early.”
“And if you meet any hot aliens up in that space station, you’ll remember you’re married, right?”
Josh laughed. “You’re the hottest woman in the galaxy anyway.”
He finished his lunch while Karen washed some dishes. Then she wiped down a few counters, though they were sparkling clean. While he cleaned his plate and put it away, he heard a loud, obnoxious blat from the living room.
“What the hell?” He went to investigate.
Karen was standing in the middle of the room and smiling. “I found that CD your babushka made for you!”
Josh laughed until his eyes watered as the deep, horrendous booms filled the house. “I was a terrible tuba player!” He looked toward the closet, where his battered old tuba was still gathering dust.
“Babu thought you were a genius. You should take this CD with you for old times’ sake.”
“The other guys would laugh their butts off if they heard this.” Josh and Karen listened for a while, until the hooting and booming finally stopped. Josh grabbed Karen and kissed her. “I have a surprise for you,” he said.
“What is it?”
“Go look outside.”
There was a beat-up old phone booth on the street corner outside their house. The phone was broken and useless, but nobody had taken down the booth. Karen looked outside and squealed when she saw what Josh had done to it.
Overnight when nobody was around to see, he’d painted the whole thing bright blue. There was a white square over the door that read “PUBLIC CALL BOX.”
Karen laughed and laughed, and then she burst into tears.
“Don’t cry.” Josh hugged her tightly, and she clung to him. “Look, now you can come visit me whenever you want.”
“If only that were true,” Karen sniffed. “I’m going to miss you so much.”
“I’m going to miss you too.”
“ Were you breathing up there , Maa?”
“ Was it dark ? “
“Did u visit the Sun n the Moon? “
“What about your Yoga n meditational exercises ? “
“ What lingo did you speak and teach to the aliens ?”
And a multitude more . I was victoriously fielding their questions , bathing in a heavenly volley of unending questions.
Their joy saw a mountainous high to welcome back on Mother Earth – a lady with the longest solo flight to the Space Station who dwelled in an unknown space and time . I was very much missed at home, work and by friends.
“Absence makes the heart grow fonder , eh?”
Having created a rocking n unequalled record on the face of the Earth , I was fortunate to garner a mammoth fanfare locally, nationally and internationally.I became a Space Station Super Star , fans spread across the seven seas. Folks trying to communicate with me- in person or on telephone.
Sabash ! Kudos! Bien fait ! Bien cocido ! Molodstom ! Bem feito ! Gut gemacht !
In my honour , a royal reception to felicitate my courageous and unsurpassed feat was arranged.. The air was rent with the noteworthy tubaic melody . I was later given to understand by one of the tubaists that tubas are only played at extraordinary achievements of the highest order . In tears I counted the blessings , well- wishes and the love of my parents , family , friends and students . The entire humanity inundated me with a thunderous applause of claps, whistles n cheers.
What a lavish splash of champagne , the most savoury Asian delicacies pregnant with aromatic spices, the richest European desserts, colourfully dressed herrings a multi- tiered gâteau in the shape of a Space Station representing the national flags of the world. Undoubtedly , it was the longest feminine séjour at the Space Station to go into the pages of World History …
Phones kept ringing – myriad fans thronged the phone booths with an undying desire to wish ‘Bravo ‘ to the dynamic woman who had engraved her unprecedented feat in every heart and on every mind.
A phenomenal standing ovation ! I was hugely honoured and humbled to share the stage with the Queen of England who shook hands warmly and offered the MOST PRESTIGIOUS MEDAL ever awarded proclaiming “ You are our pride .”
Amidst deafening tuba music and paparazzi and tears of joy and humility streaming down my face I shouted Dhanyavad ! Thank you ! Merci !Gracias ! Danke ! Obrigada !
“ Why are you weeping ?
“Why are you profusely thanking an invisible audience at 3 in the morning?
Go back to sleep , you have a long day ahead !”sleepily muttered my dear husband.
OMG ….. IT WAS A HEAVENLY DREAM !
Dear readers, dream big , bigger things happen !
Dare to be NONPAREIL – the UNPARALLELED ONE !
Thomas Lamkin Jr
As the telescope zeroed in, young miss Boleslava began cutting into the dressed herring. It was the one thing on the buffet table that Moisey was actually looking forward to. All the other fine food, usually relegated to dinners for charities, looked completely unpalatable. The countdown proceeded apace, but most in the small viewing room were peeling away from the television screens in order to get in line for the celebration meal. Even in this auspicious occasion, no one wanted to be last in line.
Something tugged at the corner of Moisey’s attention, but he dismissed it. He had eyes only for that glimmer of light in the center of the television screen, indicating the space station and, invisible even through the telescope, the tiny spec of a docking pod coming in to transfer the first cosmonauts into their new home for the next six months. The countdown became background noise as the viewing room began to fill with the sound of pre-emptive congratulations and back-clapping. He spared a glance to the table – the caviar was untouched, but the herring was going quickly, as was the punch. He’d be kicking himself later if he missed either of those.
The countdown finished and cheers from the control room went up. There was still that nagging feeling that Moisey couldn’t entirely brush aside, and it was starting to anger him. He found himself scowling at the television screen, briefly blocked by the taller instruments of band coming in to play a quick celebratory piece. He tried to run through a personal list of things he may have forgotten or left waiting back in his cubicle. As the tuba moved aside, there was a little sparkle of light, like the sun glinting off of the far away space station. Then a sparkle of light floated away from the central dot of light, toward the corner of the screen. In turning to ask if someone else had seen, Moisey noticed movement in the room below the viewing area, and realized what had been nagging him. Off to the side, one of the switchboards was crowded by a handfull of the bespectacled technicians that ran the operation. The jovial troika being played by the brass ensemble made it impossible for him to tell if they were using the intercom.
Moisey waved his hands, shouting over the cheery trumpets, while attempting to watch both the control room and the screen at the same time. Finally someone must have noticed, because one by one the instruments faded into comical noises normally reserved for schoolboy pranks, and then silence. That’s when they all heard the voice shouting through the small speaker.
“…lost signal, it’s falling. It’s falling!”
Moisey sent the tuba player toppling backward into the table, saw the remainder of the dressed herring crushed under his shoulder, and dashed out of the room to find the nearest telephone booth in the long halls of the center. The president’s son was on that capsule, and he would need answers…